May

3

 I strongly believe that ventilation and outdoor sports have a significant impact on longevity. However, I have scanty scientific evidence for it. How would readers suggest I come up with some proper support for my theory?

Pitt T. Maner suggests: 

The first dose-response study for the positive effects of Nature. There has to be a Vitamin D angle too…a highly promoted vitamin at the moment. As long as your not on the golf course (not the healthiest place anyway) the mind/body stress relief benefits seem significant:

Just five minutes of exercise in a green nature setting, like these beautiful hills in Vermont, can boost mood and self-esteem.

Credit: Michael Bernstein, American Chemical Society

How much "green exercise" produces the greatest improvement in mood and sense of personal well-being? A new study in the American Chemical Society's semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology has a surprising answer. The answer is likely to please people in a society with much to do but little time to do it: Just five minutes of exercise in a park, working in a backyard garden, on a nature trail, or other green space will benefit mental health. Jules Pretty and Jo Barton explain in the study that green exercise is physical activity in the presence of nature. Abundant scientific evidence shows that activity in natural areas decreases the risk of mental illness and improves the sense of well-being. Until now, however, nobody knew how much time people had to spend in green spaces to get those and other benefits. "For the first time in the scientific literature, we have been able to show dose-response relationships for the positive effects of nature on human mental health," Pretty said. From an analysis of 1,252 people (of different ages, genders and mental health status) drawn from ten existing studies in the United Kingdom, the authors were able to show that activity in the presence of nature led to mental and physical health improvements. They analyzed activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming. The greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally-ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. All natural environments were beneficial including parks in urban settings. Green areas with water added something extra. A blue and green environment seems even better for health, Pretty noted. From a health policy perspective, the largest positive effect on self-esteem came from a five-minute dose. "We know from the literature that short-term mental health improvements are protective of long-term health benefits," Pretty said. "So we believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with green exercise," added Barton. A challenge for policy makers is that policy recommendations on physical activity are easily stated but rarely adopted widely as public policy, Pretty noted, adding that the economic benefits could be substantial. Policy frameworks that suggest active living point to the need for changes to physical, social and natural environments, and are more likely to be effective if physical activity becomes an inevitable part of life rather than a matter of daily choice.

Provided by American Chemical Society

Riz Din adds:

Ventilation has a pretty clear impact on longevity when it comes to the transmission of infection. This study looks at TB infection rates in different ventilated spaces  and finds that sometimes, simplest is best:

Facilities built more than 50 years ago, characterized by large windows and high ceilings, had greater ventilation than modern naturally ventilated rooms… Even within the lowest quartile of wind speeds, natural ventilation exceeded mechanical (p < 0.001). The Wells-Riley airborne infection model predicted that in mechanically ventilated rooms 39% of susceptible individuals would become infected following 24 h of exposure to untreated TB patients of infectiousness characterized in a well-documented outbreak. This infection rate compared with 33% in modern and 11% in pre-1950 naturally ventilated facilities with windows and doors open.

Closer to home, this resource looks at ventilation rates and health and performance (work and school) outcomes. The general findings are in line with expectations i.e. ventilation is perfomance enhancing. One last memorable finding comes from the EPA web-site, which says "The average person, through the natural process of breathing, produces approximately 2.3 pounds (1 kg) of carbon dioxide per day."On that note, I'm heading out for a brisk walk in the sun (and wind), before knucking down to some more studies! 

In another commentary, Frances Kuo who is a director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, does point out that "None of the studies involved taking people and assigning them to different ‘doses’ of nature; rather, they looked at how people who sought out nature on their own responded to nature.” All in all, it doesn't look all that newsworthy, although I can't see the actual study which may be more enlightening than suggested by the media reporting.

This is veering a little off tangent as it neither relates to ventilation or outdoor sports, but I did find a previous study from Pretty that involved putting subjects on a treadmill and measuring their responses when exposed to images of different landscapes; subjects did show better responses when exposed to the green landscapes.


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